The former Alabama long snapper recalls being on the phone with the Jacksonville Jaguars shortly after “Mr. Irrelevant” was selected to discuss the possibility of signing with the team as an undrafted free agent. The Jaguars had already spoken with Tinker’s agent, and the only thing left was for him to agree to join the team.
Until taking the call, the day was a bit nerve-wracking for Tinker. He spent the day with his parents, but didn’t watch much of the last few rounds of the draft. He opted to go to a driving range in Birmingham with his dad to clear his head.
“I didn’t think I was going to get drafted, but I was just anxious all day,” Tinker said during a telephone interview with The Star. “I knew something would happen at the end of the day... We got back to the house as the draft was wrapping up and about 45 seconds later, my phone rang.
“It was a great feeling, a relief. It was exciting and I was so happy. At the same time, I was a little nervous because I know it’s just an opportunity. That’s all I can ask for. I still have to go down there and earn a spot.”
Tinker got his first taste of life in the NFL during the Jaguars organized team activities and minicamp. He said playing for the two-time defending national champion Crimson Tide prepared him for a potential professional career, but noted there were noticeable differences in how players approach the game.
“In terms of football, it’s just like Alabama,” he said. “Alabama and coach (Nick) Saban have prepared me so well because in terms of a schedule when it comes to football, you can change a little thing here or there, but it’s pretty much the exact same. I got to see just how serious it is and how it is a job.
“The style of players in the NFL are so much different because they look at it as a career and they want to play forever. It’s a lot more mature than college football.”
But his journey isn’t over. Tinker still has to make the team, which won’t be an easy task as the Jaguars have veteran long snapper Jeremy Cain under contract.
The team will report to training camp July 21.
Tinker also has a book coming out, titled ‘A Season to Remember: Faith in the Midst of the Storm.’ The book details the tornado that struck Tuscaloosa and other parts of Alabama along with the Tide’s 2011-2012 season. Tinker also shares his accounts of interacting with Saban and what he learned from the four-time national championship coach.
It will be available for pre-order in September and will hit stores in April 2014. While certain parts of his story are tragic, Tinker doesn’t want sympathy.
“It’s sad what happened, but what came from it isn’t sad,” he said. “I feel like everybody can learn stuff through adversity and the book talks about what I’ve learned and how the whole city responded.”